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The atmospheric boundary layer and the "gray zone" of turbulence: a critical review

Honnert, R., Efstathiou, G. A., Beare, R. J., Ito, J., Lock, A., Neggers, R., Plant, R. S. ORCID:, Shin, H. H., Tomassini, L. and Zhou, B. (2020) The atmospheric boundary layer and the "gray zone" of turbulence: a critical review. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 125 (13). e2019JD030317. ISSN 2169-8996

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1029/2019JD030317


Recent increases in computing power mean that atmospheric models for numerical weather prediction are now able to operate at grid spacings of the order of a few hundred meters, comparable to the dominant turbulence length scales in the atmospheric boundary layer. As a result, models are starting to partially resolve the coherent overturning structures in the boundary layer. In this resolution regime, the so‐called boundary‐layer "gray zone", neither the techniques of high‐resolution atmospheric modeling (a few tens of meters resolution) nor those of traditional meteorological models (a few kilometers resolution) are appropriate because fundamental assumptions behind the parameterizations are violated. Nonetheless, model simulations in this regime may remain highly useful. In this paper, a newly‐formed gray‐zone boundary‐layer community lays the basis for parameterizing gray‐zone turbulence, identifies the challenges in high‐resolution atmospheric modeling and presents different gray‐zone boundary‐layer models. We discuss both the successful applications and the limitations of current parameterization approaches, and consider various issues in extending promising research approaches into use for numerical weather prediction. The ultimate goal of the research is the development of unified boundary‐layer parameterizations valid across all scales.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:90805
Publisher:American Geophysical Union


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